The American Meat Institute has joined 85 other small, medium and large enterprises representing a wide segment of the business and agricultural communities engaged in international trade and investment, calling for President Obama to reconsider merging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) with five other agencies responsible for business and trade into one single cabinet-level department.
The letter underscores the critical importance of U.S. international trade and economic engagement, but also highlights concerns about the apparent elimination of the UTSR as a separate entity under the Executive Office of the President.
The letter states, “USTR’s unique and important role stems in substantial part from its position within the Executive Office of the President, lending it credibility with foreign trading partners, Congress, other U.S. government entities and private stakeholders.
Most developed economies have a direct counterpart to the USTR that reports to the head of government which lends the position enormous credibility. Subsuming USTR into a broader trade and business government department will severely harm that credibility and USTR’s ability to play its unique coordinating role within the U.S. government. As a result, we believe that such a move will weaken the ability of USTR and the United States to pursue effectively a strong trade policy that is responsive to Congress, business and other stakeholders and meets our country’s important objectives, including achieving the Administration’s important goal of doubling exports.”
President Obama is proposing to merge six trade and commerce agencies — the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the USTR, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.